This is truly an honor. You’ll have to excuse me, I feel way out of my element. I’m always more at home in jeans and a t-shirt yelling into a megaphone. I want to thank my beautiful mother, my amazing fellow activists in NM GetEQUAL, including Miss Brittany Arneson, Gary Peterson and Jesse Lopez. Thank you to all who have stood with me in the streets, sat in on conference calls, discussed politics and tactics over coffee, retweeted me, and engaged in discussions on Facebook! Thanks to my amazing GetEQUAL team both locally and across the country, to the incredible team at Albuquerque Pride, and thanks to friends and mentors who are not able to be here tonight: fellow activists Kelly Hutton, Michelle Wright, Heather Cronk, and David Fleck have all given me guidance and support. Most importantly, thanks to my partner, Les, and our daughter Alegra, without whom I would not be able to function daily.
I have had people ask me just what it is that motivates me, what gives me the drive to stand strong and fight oppression. The quickest answer I can give is that I finally reached my boiling point, and am no longer able or willing to sit back and allow status quo to be “good enough” for myself, my family, or our community. The system is slow, too slow for our youth who sometimes end up taking the tragic way out, too slow for LGBT families who face discrimination and inequality on a daily basis in hundreds of ugly ways, too slow for our transgender brothers and sisters who all too often are dismissed by society and discounted by loved ones as just going through a phase. I say the system doesn’t have to be this slow. If each and every one of us dedicates a little more time to the struggle, full equality in all areas governed by federal and local law can be a reality in the near future! Whether that means talking to strangers about why this is important, working with our lawmakers to make a bold difference, taking legal action through the courts when necessary, or organizing on the streets and in our neighborhoods, is up to you. I firmly believe that it will take all of these actions from as many of us as possible to truly effect change, and we CAN change not only the game but he pace of the game! I thank each and every one of you and hope to see you on the streets!